Fundal Height

Daisy Rogozinsky
October 20, 2022

Fundal height is an important tool used to track the health of a fetus. In this article, we’ll define the term “fundal height” and explain how it relates to birth injury law.

Key Takeaways

  • Fundal height is a tool for measuring the growth of a fetus
  • Fundal height is the measurement in centimeters from the pregnant parent’s pubic bone to the top of the uterus
  • After 24 weeks of pregnancy, fundal height is expected to match the number of weeks of pregnancy, plus or minus two centimeters
  • An abnormally high or low fundal height may indicate issues such as fetal macrosomia and uterine growth restriction
  • If a doctor fails to properly measure and respond to fundal height leading to birth injury, it may be considered medical malpractice 

What Is Fundal Height?

Fundal height is a tool used to measure the growth of a fetus. It is usually used when the fetus is small for its gestational age. Fundal height measurement is defined as the distance in centimeters from the pregnant parent’s pubic bone to the top of the uterus. After 24 weeks of pregnancy, the fundal height for a normally-growing fetus is expected the match the number of weeks of pregnancy.

How Fundal Height is Measured

Healthcare professionals measure fundal height using a tape measure. They find the distance between the pregnant person’s pubic symphysis, the joint between the left and right parts of the bottom section of the pubic bone, and the uterine fundus, the uppermost, rounded part of the uterus. 

What Fundal Height Means

After 24 weeks of pregnancy, fundal height is expected to correspond with the number of weeks of pregnancy, with a margin of error of two centimeters. For example, for a parent pregnant for 30 weeks, the range for normal fundal height is 28 to 32 centimeters. 

A fundal height smaller or larger than expected may indicate a number of factors, including:

  • Polyhydramnios, too much amniotic fluid
  • Oligohydramnios, too little amniotic fluid
  • A multiple pregnancy
  • Fetal macrosomia, a significantly larger than average fetus
  • Uterine growth restriction, when the fetus is growing poorly and weighs less than 90% of other fetuses at the same gestational age

When a fundal height measurement is abnormal, it is common for healthcare providers to recommend an ultrasound in order to try to determine what may be causing the unusual measurements.

Note that fundal height is a less accurate measurement for pregnant parents with a body mass index of 30 or higher (considered obese) or with a history of fibroids.

It’s also important to note that fundal height is not exact and it is only one way to gauge fetal growth. 

Fundal Height and Birth Injury Law

Fundal height is an important way to identify potential problems with a fetus including fetal macrosomia and intrauterine growth restriction. 

When either of these conditions is present, healthcare professionals must respond accordingly. With fetal macrosomia, it may be required to plan a cesarean section in order to deliver the fetus safely without hurting it or its parent. With intrauterine growth restriction, doctors should aim to find a potential cause, as a lack of oxygen or nutrients may be indicated.

If a medical professional fails to properly measure fundal height and respond accordingly to any abnormal results, it may be considered negligence. And if this actions leads to birth injury, such as oxygen deprivation or brain damage, it is medical malpractice.

If your child has suffered a birth injury because of a doctor’s improper measuring of or response to fundal height, you may be eligible for compensation. It is recommended that you speak to an experienced birth injury attorney in order to explore your options.

Featured Birth Injury Lawyers

Timothy J. King, Attorney at Law

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